New Delhi: Surrounded by a group of people, breaking the sombre silence with their muffled sobs, two women are quiet and stoic -- one is the mother of Vinay Sharma and the other of Pawan Gupta, two of the four Nirbhaya convicts hanged to death on Friday.
Just a few kilometres from Tihar Jail where their sons were executed at 5.30 am, the women sit outside their homes in south Delhi's slum colony Ravidas Camp, waiting for the bodies of the two young men who were among the six who so brutally raped a 23-year-old woman on December 16, 2012, that she died of her injuries a fortnight later.
On Friday afternoon, as the sun lay low on the horizon, burdened as it were by the hanging earlier in the morning, the area was surrounded by police personnel, excited hangers-on and residents resentful at yet another intrusion.
The main road leading into the colony of narrow lanes and cramped houses was blocked by pushcarts and the men and women inside stood and sat protectively around the two women.
Pawan's mother stared blankly at the sky, a few tears rolling down her face. Vinay's mother too sat quietly next to her, listening to the consoling words from their longtime neighbours.
"Koi hamara dukh jaanne nahi aya itne saal, ab kyon aa rahe hain (nobody ever came to know our pain, why is everyone coming here now)," said a woman sitting next to the grieving mothers.
The four convicts - Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, Akshay Thakur, Mukesh Singh - were hanged to death at 5.30 in the morning, the first time that four people were hanged simultaneously in Tihar Jail.
The colony was home to four of the six, including a juvenile. While the sixth, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail, the juvenile was released after a stint in a correctional home.
The widowed mother of brothers Ram Singh and Mukesh Singh has left the locality and gone back to her family in Rajasthan.
"We fought for so long, so much money wasted. If this was justice, they could have done it earlier too," said another woman in the circle.
Several hostile glares suggested that all outsiders, including media personnel, were unwelcome.
"Log kaafi gusse me hain (people are very angry)," a man in his 60s said.
"There were several TV vans in the morning. We thought there would be a scuffle. It's not good to be pestering mourners at such a time," he said.
While most turned their gaze when approached, one woman spoke out angrily.
"I think this had to happen. If you have done a crime you will be punished. But I can understand their families' pain," she said before being told by a man to go inside.
A Delhi court sentenced the four convicts to death on September 13, 2013. In the years that followed, the convicts' appeals to the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court were rejected.
The executions were carried out after the four accused exhausted every possible legal avenue to escape the gallows. Their desperate attempts only postponed the inevitable by less than two months after the first date of execution was set for January 22.